Visiting the backcountry in Sweetwater County, Wyoming can be exciting because it’s one of the last unfenced, massive open areas in the United States.
The majority of Sweetwater County is public land, providing unlimited opportunities for adventure and exploration, whether you drive, hike or bike. For motorists, several drivable roads traverse the county and allow outdoor enthusiasts to find historic old trails that can then be hiked or biked.
“In fact, Highway 28 parallels the Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, Pony Express and California national historic trails, and old stagecoach wheel ruts are still visible at several locations,” says Jenissa Bartlett, executive director of Sweetwater County Travel & Tourism. “A lot of the old trails don’t allow motorized traffic, but there is certainly plenty to see in this beautiful part of the world.”
Where Deer and Antelope Play
Wild horse sightings are commonplace, as are rock formations, sand dunes, and antelope, deer and elk.
“The only desert elk herd in North America is here in Sweetwater County,” Bartlett says. “They can often be seen by motorists as part of everyday life around here.”
Bartlett says even though many of the old historic trails can’t be driven upon, much of the open terrain is vehicle accessible.
“Motorists need to be sure that their vehicle is adequate, with high clearance or four-wheel-drive,” she says. “Carry water and let someone know where you’re headed and when you’re expected back.”
Jesse James Hid Here
She suggests driving to some sites and then backpacking or hiking, including the northern route of the Outlaw Trail, where Frank and Jesse James hid from the law. Also in Sweetwater are parts of the Cherokee Trail, Overland Trail and Old Emigrant Trail, and the Mormon Pioneer Trail is drivable. But the road is unpaved and can be very muddy when wet.
Pick Poison and Draino
Bartlett points out that although driving and hiking are popular tourism options in Sweetwater County, the area is perhaps best known by outdoor adventurers for mountain biking trails. There is an entire trail system down by Flaming Gorge near the former Currant Creek Cattle Company, plus the city of Green River has a specific mountain bike park complete with dirt jumps, elevated trails and bridges.
“Our tourism department just redid the travel guide because we recently got approval on four new open area mountain biking trails – Brent & Mike's Trail, Fast Exit, Pick Poison and Draino,” Bartlett says. “We are becoming such a well-known spot for mountain biking that we were featured in the July 2010 issue of Mountain Flyer, a popular national mountain biking magazine.”
Compared to Moab
Bartlett adds that the four new trails have varying difficulties of terrain that are ideal for both the beginner and expert biker.
“These trails are already being compared to those in Moab, Utah, and other top trails in the Western United States,” she says. “Sweetwater County is truly lucky to have so many outdoor adventure destinations that people can access.”
Read about more bike trails in Rock Springs, WY.